As Topeka’s revitalization teams pick up, one entrepreneurial team seeks to take advantage of the city’s blossoming businesses. Pat Lazure and Mark Ludwin, founders of Deal Garden, launched their Topeka-based market in December.
Deal Garden Topeka is an online group-buy website that features daily deals to local businesses. With no up-front cost to merchants, Lazure, a 34-year-old Creighton University graduate, said that they are basically just a cheap way to advertise.
“What we deliver to the merchant is customers, right to the counter,” said Lazure.
How it works: Deal Garden arranges a special voucher deal for a particular business. They advertise it through social and online media such as Facebook and email. Potential customers pay the Deal Garden for the voucher, and go to the venue.
Deal Garden’s greatest potential lies in its ability to attract new customers, said Lazure. For example, if someone is nervous about trying a restaurant, they can buy a voucher, and then even if they don’t like the restaurant, they feel like they’ve saved money. If they do like it, they will return, which adds a customer to that restaurant’s business.
“It helps people open up and try new places,” said Lazure. “And businesses spend a fortune on trying to acquire a brand-new customer. We do it on the cheap.”
Lazure and Ludwin have experiences in business ventures that are similar to this, and hope to launch more Deal Garden sites in other communities soon, looking to Manhattan and Kansas City in particular. However, they felt that Topeka was a great spot for their first launch.
“We are focused on small and mid-sized communities, like a historic college town,” said Lazure. At first they looked to Lawrence and Manhattan, but soon decided to launch in Topeka because with the students leaving for break, they knew a community with a more permanent residency might be ideal.
“The community has embraced us very well, we’ve been delighted with it,” said Lazure.
The business response has also been positive, including this week’s deal: a $7 voucher for a $15 meal at College Hill Tavern, located on 17th Street by Washburn University’s campus.
“We’re booked through almost the end of February, we wanted this to coincide with the return of the Washburn students,” he said.